The Wallflower: A Guide to Perceiving and Working with Introverted Employees

It is likely that you are aware of the term ‘wallflower personalities’. We all have that one friend who would rather stay in on a Friday night, rather than go out and socialise. This is simply another way of referring to introverts, who can be counted on for a cosy night of Netflix and eggs benedict. However, it might prove difficult to keep introverts motivated in a remote working environment.

For an introverted person, working from home may appear to be an ideal situation. Through the use of remote meetings and the promotion of asynchronous communication and individual effort, it could be argued that home working suits this type of individual. However, this is not always the case and it is important to consider the potential drawbacks of this arrangement.

A poll conducted by Greater Divide, a research business based in Virginia, has revealed that extroverts were significantly less likely than introverts to experience mental health issues because of the need to work remotely and socially isolate. Furthermore, according to research conducted by Tribe, 13% of introverts would prefer to return to the workplace after the pandemic, while 30% reported that it was more difficult to interact with colleagues when working remotely.

Not everyone is suited to working from home, but the more pertinent question is what kind of job is best suited to such an environment. It can be difficult to find ways of being productive and comfortable in a virtual workplace, especially for those who are naturally more introverted.

Explain the Characteristics of a “wallflower.”

A “wallflower person” is someone who generally keeps to the sidelines and appears to be shy when in a large group of people. This kind of person may find themselves feeling uneasy in social gatherings and may prefer to spend time with a smaller group of friends rather than attempting to draw attention to themselves.

Rather than simply describing introverts as those who “loathe parties”, the Oxford Dictionary instead defines them as individuals who tend to be more internally focused than outwardly oriented. This concept has been around since the 1920s, when psychologist Carl Jung first proposed his theory of introversion and extroversion as two distinct personality traits. This theory has since become the basis of many other personality type theories, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which acknowledges that each individual can possess characteristics of both spectrums. Ultimately, a person’s behaviour is usually driven by one of the two personality types.

Research indicates that those with an introverted temperament tend to be more solitary, viewing the world from an internalised standpoint. In contrast to extroverts, introverts require a period of solitude in order to replenish their energy levels, whereas extroverts are energised by social interactions.

Features shared by most introverts include:

  • Independence
  • Self-awareness
  • Quietness
  • Passionate escalation while discussing concepts
  • Isolated pursuits
  • Closer knit group
  • Take a step back and take an impartial look at everything.

Why Are Introverts So Successful in Telecommuting Roles?

The appeal of a wallflower personality is evident in its tendency to carefully consider and contemplate what is being said, in contrast to the typically more outspoken nature of extroverts. Consequently, when they do contribute, it is usually with something thought-provoking and useful to the conversation. One of the benefits of hiring introverts is that they are likely to be more concentrated and devoted to their work.

According to Forbes, introverts possess a range of advantageous skills, which include the capacity to carefully evaluate situations prior to acting, listen to the opinions of others, and take independent action.

The more introspective individuals in remote teams are often the most proficient planners. Their acute observational skills enable them to quickly recognise how to allocate tasks and pair up team members to maximise contributions. Furthermore, those who are more introverted are likely to allow for additional time in their plans, which can be highly beneficial. Therefore, it is beneficial to utilise their organisational abilities in team management. The extroverts, on the other hand, can be better suited to managing interactions with larger groups of people.

Ultimately, it is a common misconception that introverts are not capable of deep thought and analysis. However, it could be argued that they are in fact very capable of such activities, and are often the best people to turn to when it comes to researching and presenting an annual report to customers. Not only can they provide an in-depth insight, they are also more than capable of tracking and monitoring the progress of a project. Nevertheless, an outgoing individual may be more suited to presenting the report and keeping the audience’s attention, as they can draw attention to the most important aspects of the study.

In order to maximise the productivity of the business, it would be beneficial to take advantage of the strengths of both introverts and extroverts. It is important that both types of people are able to work well with others, and if they can collaborate, they will both contribute to the project. As such, it is advisable to encourage friendly conversations between the two. However, when dealing with introverts it is important to remember that they may need more time to get comfortable with larger social interactions.

Strategies for connecting with and supporting the introverts in your remote team.

  • Never use shyness as an excuse
  • To avoid embarrassing an introvert, please refrain from putting them in the limelight.
  • Learn to read your introverted client.

If you are looking to collaborate with an introvert, it is important to not use their introversion as an explanation for their actions. Although some introverts may take more time to consider their actions and form their opinions, this should not be seen as a means of allowing only the extroverts to take charge while the introverts remain passive. It is important to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute their ideas and opinions in a professional environment.

The next step is to create a work schedule that is equitable for all team members. It is important to be mindful of the different personalities within the team, and to not force introverts into the spotlight, as this will likely make them more reticent. The objective should be to ensure everyone who wishes to contribute is able to do so in a positive and welcoming atmosphere. When working remotely, it is essential to have regular video meetings in order to discuss any new developments or changes to the team’s objectives. It is important to give everyone on the team a chance to express their views during these meetings, so it is helpful to schedule breaks in order to accommodate this. Alternatively, you could use humour to lighten the mood and to encourage participation by making light of any idiosyncrasies.

It is essential to understand the type of introvert you are working with in order to be successful. Everyone has different strategies for mitigating social situations and so it is important to take the time to learn and incorporate the preferred methods of your team into your workflow. Making an effort to understand what your colleagues excel at and what motivates them will enable you to tailor your approach for maximum efficiency and collaboration.

What follows is a discussion of the many sorts of introverts and how best to interact with them.

Characteristics of Various Introvert Subtypes

In the 1920s, Carl Jung first coined the terms “introvert” and “extrovert”, leading to further research that has since broadened the original categorisation. In 2023, psychologists Jennifer Grimes, Jonathan Cheek and Julie Norem identified four basic types of introversion: the sociable introvert, the thinker, the worrier and the reserved. This has enabled a greater understanding of the similarities and differences between individuals with this particular personality type.

1. Introverted Extroverts

Introverts who enjoy engaging with people socially tend to do so only occasionally, choosing instead to prioritise time spent alone. According to psychologist Anthony Freire, this is not out of anxiety, but rather because of a preference for semi-isolation or for smaller, more intimate gatherings with people who share similar interests.

Habits and personality quirks shared by introverts:

  • Favouring small, exclusive meetings
  • Away by oneself on a regular basis, whether for a holiday or
  • A partnership, like any other, benefits from individual time apart.
  • Accepts but seldom attends social invitations

Collaborating online with a shy coworker:

If you are an introverted individual who finds comfort and success in working in small groups and in an asynchronous environment, then you may be more extroverted than you think. Extroverts tend to enjoy a mix of group activities and periods of quiet reflection in order to ascertain the best course of action. It is recommended to combine regular group meetings with specific tasks assigned to the group in order to engage with the extroverts. Expect promptness, accuracy, and well-thought-out opinions from this type of team member and, eventually, they will build relationships with their colleagues and make meaningful contributions to the team.

2. An Introverted Thinker

Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, notes that the ‘thinking introvert’ is characteristically cognitive in nature. These introverts are usually highly intelligent, and often favour solitary activities such as reading, writing, and research.

Introverted individuals who take the time to consider their responses carefully are likely to respond with something along the lines of “let me think about it”. People with an introverted personality tend to be great listeners, and often have a knack for helping those who are having difficulty.

Characteristics and routines shared by introverts who think:

  • Introspection
  • Interest in learning, reading, and creating
  • Don’t rush into giving a response or an opinion.
  • Superior knowledge of one’s own qualities and shortcomings

Collaboration through remote access with an introverted thinker:

Research and other tasks that require a solitary approach are ideal for this type of personality, allowing them to make use of their strengths. You can depend on them to provide comprehensive reports and thorough evaluations. The more introspective members of the team can often uncover useful data and offer novel perspectives. Their thoughtful approach to problem-solving also makes introverted thinkers a valuable asset when it comes to making decisions and devising new strategies. In addition, these individuals tend to be excellent listeners and can help to encourage conversation. By assigning them this type of work, you are allowing them to remain within the boundaries of their comfort zone. This will ensure they remain results-focused rather than people-centric.

3. Shy and Afraid

The introverted person may be more likely to shy away from social situations and may appear to be anxious or tense. They may experience severe social anxiety, feeling that they lack the necessary social skills and lack confidence. Those who are shy and easily embarrassed may self-identify as ‘wallflowers’, which can lead to them becoming more guarded and defensive when faced with social interaction. They may even take steps to avoid social situations, making them appear unfriendly or unapproachable. Introverts tend to be more comfortable in familiar environments and struggle with adapting to new people and places.

Characteristics and routines shared by introverts who worry:

  • Normally exhibit signs of anxiety when confronted with novel circumstances
  • Exceptionally nasty and evasive conduct
  • The persistent avoidance of all forms of human contact

Co-operating from afar with an introverted worrier:

Having a reliable companion could be beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety and introversion. Being surrounded by people they trust, such as friends and family, can help to create an environment where they are more likely to open up and feel relaxed. Therefore, it is suggested that those affected could be encouraged to engage in various projects with different teammates, so long as the social interactions are not overwhelming. To ensure comfort and familiarity, it is recommended to arrange tasks and activities with the people they are most comfortable with, and then gradually introduce them to the rest of the team.

4. Constraint-Inducing Introvert

The introvert who is characteristically reserved or inhibited is someone who prefers to be alone and values their privacy. This individual tends to be reflective and even-tempered, rather than shy or evasive. They tend to take a measured approach when presented with new circumstances or people, becoming more open and trusting as they gain assurance in those around them.

According to Manly, the ‘constrained introvert’ typically displays introspective qualities and a generally sluggish temperament. This type of individual tends to be emotionally reserved and maintain a cool demeanour, but can still demonstrate a consistent and reliable level of energy. Furthermore, it is often those who are more aloof and reticent who are depended upon by others.

The characteristics and routines shared by most introverts who are able to keep their emotions under check include:

  • Taking one’s time and thinking things through
  • Having a taste for the routine
  • Often cold and calculating

Cooperating with a reserved introvert:

The introverted character type is known to be highly committed and loyal to those who are close to them. It may take a while for an introvert to open up and trust someone, but once they do, they will be reliable and offer meaningful insights. In a business environment, these individuals can be of great value, as they understand the unique challenges faced by ‘introverts’. To gain their trust, it is important to get to know them on a personal level, as well as demonstrating your competence without compromising on client satisfaction. Once they have put their faith in you, their methodical approach can be beneficial when it comes to planning and allocating tasks.

How to Deal with Shy Employees in a Virtual Environment

As an employer, it can be difficult to identify introverts among your staff members. However, there are certain signs which can help you to identify introverts in your team. For example, an introvert may not be particularly outgoing or quick to participate in conversations. It is important to remember that working with an introvert is not the same as working with a recluse; introverts are capable of contributing and participating in conversations, but may require some ingenuity from you when it comes to teaching methods. To ensure that you get the most from your shy staff members, you should use methods that are adapted to their needs.

In conclusion, here are some dos and don’ts for interacting with introverts in a remote work environment:

Understanding Your Remote Team’s Personality

If you are willing to invest the time to understand how to effectively communicate with your employees, you will be laying the foundation for future successes. However, if you also take into account the individual needs of your workforce, particularly those of your remote workers, you will start to benefit from your efforts over the long-term. Engaging with introverted colleagues in the workplace can be a difficult task, but it is by no means impossible and they may bring a great deal of value to your team.

The recruitment process can be greatly enhanced by understanding and valuing the diverse personalities within your team. If your team could benefit from the more introverted traits of a potential candidate, then look to recruit someone with a more reserved and tranquil nature. On the other hand, if your team could benefit from a more extroverted presence, then look for someone who is passionate and knowledgeable, and can captivate an audience. Both types of person can be of tremendous value, but it is necessary to consider what your team requires.

If you require more information about our services, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are an IT staffing firm specialising in remote placements, and we fully appreciate the significance of cultivating a positive corporate environment. We recognise that recruiting the right personnel with the right skill set is not enough; we strive to ensure our candidates meet the exact criteria you are looking for. If your business is seeking to hire a remote developer, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs